A commercial can make you laugh or weep. A great commercial can be imprinted into your memory for years and make you a faithful follower of a certain brand name. In less than 60 seconds, a creative spot can even start a new trend.
DGA's Meet the Nominees: Commercial Directors Symposium on February 28 gave this year's nominated commercial directors — Craig Gillespie; Adam Cameron and Simon Cole (a.k.a. Joe Public); Joe Pytka; Baker Smith and Bob Kerstetter — a chance to display their best work and discuss their craft.
Introducing the directors and their work were former DGA President Jack Shea, director Rick Levine (two-time winner of the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Commercials) and Michael Bay (winner of the 1994 award in this category).
Adam Cameron, who makes up one half of Joe Public explained his vision of directorial success.
"We look at a script and focus only the section of the script where the magic is."
Joe Public partner Simon Cole added, "With commercials, you need to be in two places at once. We have that chance. You have to have an inherent trust in the taste of your partner that what they're going to do is complementary to your views."
Australian-born nominee Craig Gillespie noted that directing commercials is "walking that tightrope that people feel comfortable with."
Director Baker Smith feels the most challenging part of directing commercials is trying to tell a story in 30 seconds. "You must also somehow weave in a product so it doesn't seem like you're a big shill.
Joe Pytka, who has been nominated for a record 14 commercial awards and has won three times (1982, 1986 and 1991), said he believes casting is critical.
"Commercials are seen, some of them, hundreds of times. If you make any kind of a mistake, it'll be seen by people hundreds of times. So commercials have to have a certain kind of perfection that you don't have to have in other forms. You have to keep it fresh so that when people see it for the 50th time, it's still as good as it is the first time they saw it.
"I love the craft," added Pytka. "It's a fabulous craft. Anytime you can take something that is nothing more than an idea, and have some physical thing to show in a very short period of time is amazing."